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Watercolor Studies of Moss on Trees

It’s been a long while since I posted! I’ve been busy with packing up and also selling things in my house for my eventual move. Wow I didn’t realize I had so much STUFF! I was also busy with my eldest son’s University Graduation, which was in Washington DC. and afforded me an entire day at two fine art galleries that would blow your mind. Well it did mine! I’m going to post about that visit next I think!

moss study in watercolor, of same tree

 Back to the moss now…  I did these studies in March (click pic to see detail) when it was sunny but still chilly and actually quite nice to be out on the land. Trees were still working on their buds; leaves, grasses and wild plants were all just coming up through the dead, wet leaves of winter. But everywhere I looked there was gorgeous moss growing on all the bases of my trees. I have very wet land and there is no shortage of moss!

I did these studies because of a little story I made up about a mouse…and I needed to do moss studies. Wow, a great excuse to go out and paint!! haha. This first study (above) I did the same tree twice; sometimes I do that, the second time going faster,  more bold or just trying a different technique. For the one on the right (the second study) I stepped back and just looked at darks and lights of the green, also tried to do the bark quicker. I’ve left a good amount of clean paper because I may be able to use it later to add in some characters or more trees.

moss study in watercolor on tree in Aspen Hall

The study above I was really happy with! I went to Aspen Hall, a special place on my land that my boys and I used to go to, and I picked this one tree because the moss had a different hue. When the mosses are ‘blooming’ or sporing (?) they have little rusty brownish reddish heads that come up on hairlike stalk. If you get in close you can see them; it’s these that give the moss a sort of rust patina on top of the green.

I firmly believe if you want to paint something right, the more you can study and understand your subject the better. You don’t have to scientifically understand all about it, but get up close and really look at it’s parts, ask yourself what those parts are maybe. I find the more you do this, the more you SEE, you will get really good at seeing details you would never have thought about before! That’s my two cents!

A beautiful fuzzy budding bush, close up

On my walk I took a few pictures (of course!!) Here’s a few beautiful, soft buds on a bush. Don’t they look like those fireworks that explode outward? There’s such symmetry in the unopened bud, like a pine cone and the opened ones are irresistible to stroke to feel their softness.

Here's a snail keeping company with the tiny frog eggs

And then there were frog eggs in the wet lane, some tadpoles that had hatched and a snail friend on top of them all.

This could be the mom or dad of those eggs!

I see countless Leopard Frogs while I walk, all jumping this way and that as I come along the lanes. This was a big one so I assume an adult that overwintered and had something to do with those eggs! Now (at the end of May) I go walking and see many young frogs leaping into the wet areas of the paths, new frogs of the year!

A male (American) Robin has his crest raised while looking at me

This male American Robin was in “Pasture Lane” as I walked, he has his crest raised like someone with big eyebrows would lift them to look at you! He’s on alert.

This is a typical pose for robins, with wings held slightly hanging

Here he is again, it’s a good pose to show you how they typically hang their wings a bit. He’s still looking at me you can see!

Well I couldn’t resist adding a few more pictures from my walk, so here they are:

Two beautiful Mourning Doves, watching me from a high branch.

A beautiful setting of moss, grasses and dried leaves on a tree.

And here's my view looking home, along "Pasture Lane", a very wet but ALIVE with creatures lane!

I hope you enjoyed my moss studies and nature pictures from my day out. Please leave me a comment or ask a question, I love getting comments! I promise to TRY to put aside packing for planned sketching time everyday and get back to my posting here!

Some of my pictures link to my Zazzle Shop, please have a look around as I put many photos there that aren’t on my blog.

“Limpets, Periwinkles and Bladder Wrack”

Limpets, Periwinkle and Bladder Wrack

Limpets, Periwinkle and Bladder Wrack

Well you can see by the date on my sketch page above, that I’m way behind on my posts! I had another very nice visit to the sea on this day, at Howick Haven in Northumberland England, one of our favorites. There are many rock pools to explore when the tide goes out and that’s just what I did before settling down on a rock perch to draw the above sketch. (Click on it to see it as a glossy note card with text removed) You can read my little note about how it’s damp and chilly, my hands got so stiff it was hard to draw. Then there were too many people walking around for my liking, when they see someone sitting alone on some rocks sketching they get curious and come out pretending to explore just to peek over your shoulder. Well I don’t mind really, many times I chat with nice folks this way. (Hey if you ever see someone out drawing in nature and you think it’s me, introduce yourself!!)

Limpets, Periwinkle and Bladder Wrack

Limpets, Periwinkle and Bladder Wrack full page

This is a picture of the whole sketch page to show you my list of what we saw there, I also listed my pencil colors. When you look closer at little things around you, you’ll be amazed at how much more you see. When you start to identify and learn about these things you will see them many more times. One of the new ‘discoveries’ of the day was a Green Chiton, wow it was so cool!  (see below)

Green Chiton in the water

Green Chiton in the water

This Chiton was a gorgeous green with black trimming. Gary found it when I coaxed him out to have a ‘play’ like me around the rock pools, looking for interesting things. It was settled under water in a shallow pool, looking similar to a Limpet that clings tightly to rocks. This was unique in that it was oval shaped, and segmented like a pill bug, it could curl it’s shell! I want to do a little color study of it when I have time.

Green Chiton curled up

Green Chiton curled up

This is what it looked like when touched, it curled slowly. Don’t worry, it was soon placed safely back into the tidal pool.

pencils + drawing of seaweed with limpet

pencils + drawing of seaweed with limpet

I wanted to show you my set up with the laptop because the weather was so damp and chilly it was impossible for me to finish my color sketch on the spot. I took lots of photos and then at home just referred to my laptop screen to finish details and colors. Those are all the watercolor pencils I used laid out on the side. I had the sketch book and pencils on a little board on top of the keyboard. I used a variety of watercolor pencil types, mostly Derwent with a few Prismcolor, both great brands to use. As I studied the colors in the Bladder Wrack, this sort of ugly seaweed became more interesting to me. I liked the subtle colors of olive and yellow, the form of the leaves as they lay curling on the rocks and the fascinating little ‘bladders’ of air sacs on them to help them float, with little bumps all over them. What perked up the painting was adding light blue washes here and there where the light was hitting the wet surfaces.

I ended up using the permanent black marker to really define the drawing forms, to ‘dig in’ to dark areas and make them stand out more. I also like the way ink can loosen up a drawing and keep it from looking stiff.

Below I’ve added lots of random photos from my short visit to the coast here in Northumberland England, please have a look and enjoy my day with me! (Some I’ve made note cards of, you’ll see them in my shop when you click on those photos; you can hover over them in the shop to see close up views!)

The Beach-Tides going Out

The Beach-Tides going Out

You see some of the pools here, the beach and high dunes where we park the car are in the distance. Not a very sunny day!

Limpets along a rock

Limpets along a rock

A nice photo showing the Limpets and Bladder Wrack (so named for the little ‘bladders’ on their leaves).

Wading bird

Dunlin wading in the water

My birdy expert friend Stuart over at “The Boulmer Birder” helped me out with this ID, it’s a Dunlin.

Wagtail

Immature Pied Wagtail

This Pied Wagtail had my scratching my head, I’m still new to the birds of England but thought this was a Wagtail but it had no bib. Thanks to Stuart for telling me it is a Wagtail but the immature ones lack the bib.

Cormorant + Friends

Cormorant + Friends

Some more popular shore birds, a Cormorant, Gulls and an Oystercatcher. I love the Oyster-catcher’s red beak and very black and white plumage when they fly.

Grey Heron and Oyster Catcher

Grey Heron and Oyster Catcher

Can’t forget the Grey Heron, sorry he’s a bit blurry, I had to zoom in a lot to get him. They are incredibly shy, hard to get near so the zoom comes in handy.

Dunstanburgh Castle

Dunstanburgh Castle

This is Dunstanburgh Castle, it’s just north of Craster along the coast. From Howick Haven you can see it in the distance, I zoomed again for this one.

My Boots at the Beach

My Boots at the Beach

Then there’s the ‘ol boot picture! Just to show I do kick back sometimes and take in the beautiful scenery. (I have a bunch of cool boot note cards for those people who like hiking, click on the picture to check ’em out in my shop, more coming all the time!)

I think its Pipit

Meadow Pipit singing up in the dunes

One more bird, we saw this one while we were walking up on the dunes and as the caption says, it’s a Meadow Pipit.

Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly

Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly

The final beautiful picture I leave you with today is the Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly. I spotted him flying around in the grasses, also up on the dunes. Just love his furry little body and gorgeous colors! Click on the picture to see many photos I’ve taken of these beauties!

I hope you’ve enjoyed the walk with me at the coast. I hope you visit my shop to see the note cards I made, explore my many categories there to see other photographs and paintings. http://www.zazzle.com/marymcandrew*

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“The Carriage Drive” 9-20-09

On Sunday, September 20th, I went on a carriage drive with eight different buggy’s and all kinds of horses, through Coquetdale (or the Coquet river Valley) all around Rothbury.

Grahm's Boys

Graham's Boys

This is a drawing I did after the drive while looking at one of my photos on the computer screen. It was WAY too bumpy to even consider sketching while on the drive. This was done with a permanent ink pen with no preliminary pencil sketch, so I had to plan as I sketched because you can’t erase.

View above Coquetdale 2

View above Coquetdale

A bit about the carriage drive. It’s hard to pick out just a few pictures. As you can imagine on an 8 mile pony trek through some of the most beautiful English countryside while in the back of a 4 wheeled horse cart, left me with lots of photos. The day was perfect, a bit breezy but no rain and no dark clouds!

Sheep above Coquetdale

Sheep above Coquetdale

Through a farmers field with gorgeous views of Coquetdale below.

I got to ride in a 4 wheel buggy as I said, pulled by a team of two, half-brother horses. They were perfectly matched though, both dark brown. They were only 4 years old so young by standards of experience and the owner, Graham, was thrilled at how well they did.

Butterknowes Mare

Butterknowes Mare

This is a water color pencil sketch I did once again after the drive. I used one black pencil and a waterbrush to do it.  It was a mare in the field we passed, the gate read, “Butterknowes”, that’s the farm name. Any time we passed a field with horses they all galloped around and bucked, you could feel their excitement! This mare had a foal and they did the same thing, running along the fence as we passed, it was really exciting.

Driving a buggy can be dangerous stuff though, all in the cart had riding helmets on in case of a tip over, me…well I didn’t have one. I had to just hope the horses and terrain would cooperate! There were some parts where we had to duck from tree branches over an old railway line, where the steep bank was just a step away; and parts where the road was so bumpy I held myself up off the seat by partial standing and using my arms. I just couldn’t take the bumps with my back. But other than that it was relaxing and fun.

On the highway

On the highway

This is the buggy that was just behind us in the first part, then we switched positions so our horses could feel secure and follow.

We went through farmers fields, on a two lane paved ‘highway’, on old railroad lines, on country dirt roads (complete with pot holes!), through many field gates, up past the Simonside Hills and moors covered with bracken and heather, to swing down through gorgeous mature pine forests and then into Rothbury, a quiet little town in Coquetdale (the River Coquet valley).

Pausing at the parking area

Pausing at the parking area of Simonside

We had a brief pause at the parking area  near Simonside in the open moorland areas. We were trying to let the others catch up. It was windy and cold up here, but we couldn’t stand long or the horses would chill.

Tower at Rothbury

Tower at Rothbury

This is the old tower just outside of Rothbury, I’m not sure if it was used to look out for invading Scots or not? I have to find out.

Coming home

Coming home

Everyone filed in after the drive to June’s farm at East Raw, June’s the shepherdess who hosted the drive. The buggy in the back with the gorgeous chestnut horse is June with her groomswoman (or gate opener!) Becky. The cart in front is a lady from Scotland who came down just for the drive, with her Shetland Pony.

Chester sweated

Chester sweated

What can I say? Is this not a perfect looking horse?! (June’s horse Chester)

After the drive

After the drive

I’ll leave you with this picture of the buggy I rode in, with these two chaps having a talk over it, under a huge ancient tree. Sigh…a perfect day. I feel some horse paintings coming soon.